F1 flashback: Driver illegally starts German Grand Prix (VIDEO)

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One of the most bizarre episodes in Formula One history occurred on this day in 1977 at the Hockenheimring.

Thirty cars were entered for the German Grand Prix, the 11th round of the championship. Among them was a local driver called Hans Heyer driving a Penske PC4 – the same type which the American team had scored their only grand prix victory courtesy of John Watson the year before.

With 24 places available on the grid six drivers faced elimination before the race began and the competition to make the cut was fierce. Mexican Hector Rebaque claimed the final place in his Hesketh 308E, lapping in 1’57.18.

A dismayed Heyer was just four hundredths of a second of Rebaque’s mark – and there were two other drivers quicker than him who also fell short of qualifying. But Heyer was not to be deterred from making his grand prix debut by the inconvenient fact of having failed to qualify for it.

Shortly after the race began sharp-eyed observers noticed the number 35 ATS Penske, which was supposed to have been parked in the paddock, appear on their lap chart.

It’s not clear exactly how Heyer made his covert return to the track. It’s possible he did so amid confusion over a problem with the starting light gantry. He only made it nine laps before a gear linkage failure ended his only grand prix appearance.

It’s hard to conceive of anyone getting away with a similar escapade in the ultra-professional world of modern Formula One.

The footage below is of Heyer taking his ATS on the track earlier in the weekend:

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.